Paris Diaries: J'Adore

"And all the roads that lead to you were winding
And all the lights that light the way are blinding
There are many things that I would like to say to you
I don't know how

I said maybe
You're gonna be the one who saves me" Wonderwall by Oasis

I can't sleep and so I sit up naked in the Paris moon and look and wonder about how I ended up here. The sauvage wakes and pulls me back into bed, under the covers. It's hot, but I lie there anyway. It's been so long since someone snuggled up to me in his sleep, even if it is becoming uncomfortably hot for me. In the morning, very early, before the sun is up, before the alarm goes off, he pulls me on top of him. If I turn my head to one side I can look out and see Paris and if I turn to other I can see my Parisian paramour writhing beneath me. "I adore you" he says in French over and over. He stops me for a moment and says "I will always remember you like this." I think it's a nice way to be remembered-naked and passionate.

But it's time to go. A quick shower and we head to the car. I am one of those check in two hours early kind of person. I get to my gate with five minutes to check in. He pulls me and kisses. He's sad. I can see it. He turns to get back in the car and then turns back and kisses me again. He holds me. "I have to go now" I whisper. "I know." He doesn't say good-bye, just "a beintot"-later.

I run into the gate and check in with 2 minutes to spare, the closest I have ever cut it. Suddenly I am drenched in a cold sweat that I will not make the flight.

But I make the flight easily. The plane is delayed and so I even have time to shop at the duty free. And I wonder as I sit with a cup of coffee why I was so anxious to make this flight back. I mean, is anyone waiting for me? A call to Bakerina would make sure the cat was taken care of for another few days, but really I could have stayed. But then things ended so perfectly, so much more like a movie than life, particularly my life, that I couldn't regret how things turned out.

When I land I am inevitably disappointed by the voicemail. One always assumes one is more important than one is. But I return my few phone messages as I wait for my luggage. Safely ensconced in a cab, I call Bakerina who is always the best person to ease my transition. We agree to meet for lunch, as long as it isn't French food (my stipulation). We finally get a table at Firenze and treat ourselves to a decadent lunch while I gush about the details out of order.

When asked my feelings about the sauvage, I am typically distant and detached. We had a great time, and I would be happy to leave things as they are. Of course, I am denying the fact that I will be checking my email regularly to see if he writes and be overwhelmed with disappointment if he doesn't. Nope, I'm fine honey. Not waiting for a man to show up and make things better. Not me.

I go home and there is already an email from him waiting-hoping I had a nice trip and to email him back when I have a moment. But for now I'm exhausted. My ankles are still swollen and I know the one thing I need more than anything is to rest. I lie down in bed with my cat who is so pleased I have returned that she leaps around my head purring and licking my face and fall asleep thinking that maybe there is still some surprise left in the world.

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Paris Diaries: Mr. Sandman
He wakes me up in the middle of the night to make love to me again and then in the morning. I hadn't known what to expect. Would he dismiss me in the morning? Expecting me to find my way back to the hotel alone? Would he escort me there?

His daughter comes flying into the room at nine am complaining that we slept too late. Spent too much time in bed perhaps, but slept? Hardly at all. Once he gets her out of the room into the shower, he gets on his knees and begs me to check out of my hotel and spend my last night in Paris with him.

Begs me

In the history of my life I have never made a man so happy by saying the word yes even though I did hesitate, I admit.

I suppose at this point I should name him. I called him the savage,or really my savage AKA mon sauvage. He laughed when I called him that perhaps unaware that I had pilfered this phrase from the Addams family. We were having coffee when Freddo, a childhood friend of the savage, showed up. It seems the savage had forgotten he would give Freddo a ride to a job. Freddo was a "sound designer" (I suspect he meant DJ) and needed a ride to a job in the country, in this case a wedding. Not sure how I stood in this whole arrangement I suddenly found myself in a car, shotgun without having called it no less, seeing for the first time,real french countryside.

The "country club" where the wedding was being held was, in my opinion, bad taste. The beautiful countryside had been interrupted by a half assed fountain and the type of landscaping and architecture that I generally associate with long island. The savage pointed to the fountain for his daughter who had fallen suddenly quiet during the trip.

I personally wished Freddo could stay longer. He spoke english well because he had dated a girl from NY and spent a great deal of time there. We spoke about both cities and our experiences of them. But we dropped him off and wished him good luck.

Nana was more than quiet, she was that still quiet that reminds one of movies like the Omen or the Bad Seed. Eventually, when her silent stillness did not elicit concern (mainly because the sauvage was too busy trying to cop a feel while shifting or ease his hand up my inner thigh), loud snuffling came from the backseat.

The sauvage pulled over the car, got out, and got into the backseat with his daughter. They communicated in murmurs while he rocked her back and forth. He looked at me a few times, rolling his eyes at me and smiling. Finally she was restored to good temper and literally within seconds she was smiling and joking again. He got back in explaining that she had suddenly gotten sad over the fact that she missed her cousins who she would be seeing soon.

Now, at nine years old I had finally come to the end of a series of leg casts lasting about two years to correct my foot position. I was about to embark on a series of years where I would have to wear both leg braces and a Boston back brace-a plastic brace designed to straighten the spine by forcing it into position. The brace had to be so tight that I was often short of breath and later when I went acting school it was discovered that it permanently altered by ability to breathe using my diaphragm. It also limited activity sufficiently to prevent me from just about anything vaguely resembling fun provided even if the breathing wasn't a factor. (The design of the Boston back brace was essentially a corset made out of plastic. No joke.)

And did I cry?

And certainly if I did, my father wouldn't have pulled over the car and bothered to talk to me about it. Crying was a sign of weakness ,and I should have been properly shamed into behaving like a strong and brave girl as soon as possible. So this exchange left me at an utter and complete loss. It was like witnessing a unicorn casually ambling into a bar and ordering a beer.

We returned to Paris and the Sauvage decided that he would treat me to real crepes. He is from Brittany, and crepes originated there. He mixed the dough, and I sat on the couch waiting patiently. He came into the living room and curled up with his head on my breast and fell asleep. His daughter came in and curled up next to him. At one point, she pulled a chair into the room and I realized the family cat was asleep on top of the chair. They all slumbered while I alone stayed awake totally confused by the educational french program he put on which seemed to be charting the lives of two daughters in rural Thailand.

I wondered how I had come to be in this moment looking out the window at Paris with a slumbering family around me. After dinner, we went to the hotel to check out. I was unsure if he meant that I really should stay, but he assured me that he wanted me to and that he could easily get me to the airport even though it would be very early when I had to leave. Luckily I can pack quickly. They were amused by my American money, some change I was keeping in the ashtray. They were impressed by the hotel room, particularly his daughter, who thought the room very posh. She clearly dreamed of staying in a hotel like one. and I didn't bother to tell her we had far better for the same price in NY. We returned to the flat where I only brought up one case.

His daughter went into the other room and began to watch Mr. Bean or Monsieur La Poubelle (AKA Mr. Garbage)** on the computer in "her" room. She wanted me to come in and watch with her. I sat and watched. Luckily the humor being mainly physical, I was still able to enjoy it. She fell asleep, sucking her thumb, her golden long hair a halo on the pillow. And I looked at her and wondered if I had ever been that young. At nine, my father was a full on alcoholic. He hadn't yet begin his series of drunk driving accidents, an issue of particular embarrassment to me since I was a member of the local SADD chapter. Further he had not yet gone into the ER while on call drunk thus losing his surgical privileges at one hospital. Nor had he yet been institutionalized. All of these events had yet to happen, yet the roots of them were already well in place. I was struggling with my braces and the bi-annual dehumanizing visits to Boston Children's Hospital. My parents had yet to tell me that I had survived cancer as an infant and so I thought that my physical disabilities were the result of a mental defect or a failure of will and so I spent everyday trying to run and walk upstairs. And failing each and every day.

No...I was never that young.

While he finished putting his daughter to bed, I changed into one of my Italian lace slips. There was nothing gentle about the love making that night. It was absolutely brutal. I knew there would be dark bruises, on my thigh, on my arms. Long after I returned, my skin would remember that night. I secretly enjoy bruises from sex, a more lingering sign of an ephemeral pleasure.

Strangely neither of us came. But there was no disappointment about it. "We are both tired" he said. It was true, and after two hours, both of us lay side by side and attempted to talk. He asked me when I could come back to Paris. I told him he would forget about me. I mean Paris is filled with women. And then he explained that he hadn't been with a woman in a year. His last relationship, a ten year common law marriage, had dissolved a year ago. (He didn't identify the cause.) Since then, no women.

Until me. Because what could be safer than a strange little American girl set to return home very very soon? And yet, he wanted to know when I could return. I told him August. He said he would be away visiting his parents then. I thought that would be end of it. He wrote his name and his address as well as his email in my book.

I never expected to hear from him again.

I had five more hours left in paris. He turned out the lights and curled up behind me and fell asleep. I lay in the dark, looking out the window at the full bright moon.

** Those of you familiar with the film Grosse Point Blank may remember that the assassin sent to kill Martin is named Felix la PuBelle . I suspect the name considering the character's disposition (or as Martin says "He's an asshole") is not an accident.

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Paris Diaries: Surrender

" the revelation of the unfathomable in moment filled with life." Goethe

So we go to Chinatown. Now I'm expecting that we will get off the metro and head towards a nearby restaurant. But we keep walking and turning and turning and walking and wasn't I doing this to rest my foot and my ankle? But still walking because it is easier to hobble along in pained silence than to explain what is wrong with me.

Interestingly there are some words that are the same in french and english. Cancer, in case you were wondering, is one of them. He notices the limping. It's hard to disguise at this point and this is a testimony to my pain. Most of the time I can at least hide the limp if not the awkwardness of my gait, but today I am full Quasimodo-mode. And thus I do the one thing I would never do in English, in casual conversation I tell him I had cancer. I can't explain the details or anything else. He starts in with something that sounds like all illness is really in the mind and I'm thinking at this point I would be hard pressed to find my way back to the metro, but fuck me if I'm going to this listen to this twaddle even in french. French, English, asshattery in ANY language is not to be tolerated. But as he goes on I realize what he is explaining is that he had a problem with his brain. It would take another few months for me to piece together what happened, because the word stroke is not the same in french and english, but the description of his symptoms was unmistakable.

It's strange what will create a bond between two people. Two people who don't share a common language, continent of origin, or religion will bond over something that they unconsciously recognize within each other, but can't say or explain. Say a near death experience which leads them to take chances that others won't.

And he keeps leading me farther and farther down the rabbit hole. Farther and farther away from the beaten path. Farther from any hope of getting back to a safe place.

I could die here.

Sure it is unlikely, but it is possible and don't think for a moment that I wasn't fully cognizant of the risk I was taking. My mother traumatized me about crossing the street when I moved to NY. Everyone in my class made fun of me. Stood the cross walk tempting the traffic, pulling me by the sleeve, mocking my fear in those high pitched voices. And you know what happened even though I always looked and never crossed without the light? I still got hit by a fucking van. In the words of my geometry teacher sometimes you have to look around and say what the fuck.

We get to the restaurant on the edge of god knows where. This is the first time I see people walking around in ghetto clothes I recognize, with what Tom Wolfe dubbed in Bonfire of the Vanities, "the pimp roll." We sit outside and order. We have to sit outside because there is to be a wedding inside, a chinese wedding. The little girl, Nana, is delighted by the outfits. The women come in dressed in bright colors turquoise, kelly green, canary blue, and sun yellow. The wedding party slowly assembles and eventually proceeds inside as I watch. Nana finds a fellow boy to play with. I can not remember what we talked about but he took the time to take this picture of me before the rain started to pour.

He asked me home for tea. I have committed to this trip. How am I to get back alone now? There is no way. Even if he were to explain I would most likely get lost and now it's late..11 o'clock. The path of least resistance is to travel with him. Farther down the rabbit hole.

We go back to his apartment. He puts his daughter to bed and brings out a large and proper pot of tea with two cups. Again memory fails. How did it start? I can't recall because it was so fast. I thought it would be slow. I thought I would be able to keep it over the clothes, above the waist. But he pulls me onto his lap and my sweater comes off, followed by my shirt, and then my bra.

It's not really sex I enjoy all that much, it's passion. Sit and kiss me with real passion for an hour and I'll be your slave for a lifetime. Kissing well is a talent, kissing with passion is a rarity. Passion is not the same as animal lust although to the untrained it can seem the same. Luckily I have spent most of my life being a scholar of male desire. Animal lust is about the satiation of one's own desire. Passion is about the experience itself, the process.

After a long time kissing him while straddling him my knees began to truly ache and so I had to sit back. Immediately there was concern about my welfare, I assured him my knees simply needed a rest. Now sitting back on the couch he suddenly realized the advantage such a position afforded him. Assured I was OK, he pushed me back and unbuttoned my jeans. Next came my underwear.

As you may remember from my post titled "Sweet and Lowdown" :

I have trouble enjoying oral sex mainly because I always suspect that men hate it and it is impossible to enjoy something when you are concerned that the other person secretly resents you for this pleasure. This suspicion has been confirmed by the number of men who claim that they "love oral sex" only to discover their idea of loving oral sex is to gingerly give me a few laps and then move onto the "main event" or to reveal that they can only perform oral sex during a complex set of conditions ( ie. if you shower immediately before using a combination of 20 mule team borax and hydrochloric acid when Aries is in ascendacy and the full moon shines directly onto the reliquary of the umbilicus of Christ etc etc and by then it doesn't matter because I will have fallen asleep) Not that I can't come from oral sex, I can and I do, but generally I will only be comfortable enjoying oral sex if there is an established relationship.

You may also remember it was quickly followed by:

And I would have told him all this, but you know someone in my four years of French we completely skipped words like "oral sex" (although we did do a whole freakin' section on marine life) and since I could not explain I simply decided to let him go and discover on his own that I didn't respond to oral sex. But in the moment I allowed myself to simply let him wait and discover, I felt a shiver a pleasure go through me and soon I dug my heels into shoulders and instead of waiting for him to stop I was thinking "don't stop, don't stop" which I know how to say in French, but at that moment I was far beyond language, and I was arching myself further against him. He grasped my hand, and I kept thinking "He is going to stop at any time", but no, he kept on until he tasted my orgasm. I remember calling out in that moment, the high falsetto of pleasure, which seems so unnatural considering how deep my voice usually is. I stayed panting in the moment, and then he slowly stood up. He had been kneeling beside the bed and when he stood up I realized he was still completely dressed. He took off his shirt and pants quickly and pushed me back onto the bed. I could taste myself on his lips as he kissed me. And it was then that I realized what this really was. It was FOREPLAY. This was just the beginning of this carnival ride.

He opens my legs and kisses my inner thigh. There is no thought to fighting what he wants or explaining. There is no attempt to translate. In fact, there is no language at all. Not even whispered. Not even breathed. I am too tired. I am too tired of fighting and being brave and strong. And so I completely surrender. I am naked in Paris, without language, without safety, without any idea of how to get back home.

And I am finally happy.

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